KONRAD HERMAN JOSEPH ADENAUER By: Álvaro Pérez- Angulo Cano
ÍNDICE• Konrad Herman Joseph Adenauer• Political life• Years under Nazi regime• Chancellor of West Germany• Assassination attempt
HIS LIFE Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was born on 5January 1876, an he was death on 19 April 1967. Hewas a German statesman. As the first post-warChancellor of Germany(West Germany) from 1949 to1963, he led his country from the ruins of World WarII to a powerful and prosperous nation that forgedclose relations with old enemies: France andthe United States. In his years in power, Germanyachieved prosperity, democracy, stability andrespect. He was the first leader of the ChristianDemocratic Union(CDU), a coalition of Catholics andProtestants that under his leadership became the mostdominant in the country.
POLITICAL LIFE• He joined the Centre Party in 1906 and was elected to Colognes city council in the same year. In 1909, he became Vice-Mayor of Cologne, an industrial metropolis with a population of 635,000 in 1914. Avoiding the extreme political movements that attracted so many of his generation, Adenauer was committed to bourgeois common-sense, diligence, order, Christian morals and values, and was dedicated to rooting out disorder, inefficiency, irrationality and political immorality. From 1917 to 1933, he served as Mayor of Cologne and became qua office a member of the Prussian House of Lords.
Years under Nazi regime• Election gains of Nazi party candidates in municipal, state and national elections in 1930 and 1932 were significant. Adenauer, as mayor of Cologne and president of the Prussian State Council, still believed that improvements in the national economy would make his strategy work: ignore the Nazis and concentrate on the Communist threat. He was "surprisingly slow in his reaction" to the Nazi electoral successes, and even when he was already the target of intense personal attacks, he thought that the Nazis should be part of the Prussian and national governments based on election returns. Political maneuverings around the aging President Hindenburg then brought the Nazis to power on 30 January 1933. By early February Adenauer finally realized that all talk and all attempts at compromise with the Nazis were futile. Colognes city council and the Prussian parliament had been dissolved; on 4 April 1933, he was officially dismissed as mayor and his bank accounts frozen. "He had no money, no home and no job
Chancellor of West GermanyThe first election to the Bundestag of West Germany was held on 15 August 1949, withthe Christian Democrats emerging as the strongest party. Theodor Heuss was elected thefirst President of the Republic, and Adenauer was elected Chancellor (head ofgovernment) on 16 September 1949 with the support of his own CDU, the ChristianSocial Union and the liberal Free Democratic Party. At age 73, it was initially thought thathe would only be a caretaker chancellor. However, he would go on to hold this post for 14years, a period spanning most of the preliminary phase of the Cold War. During thisperiod, the post-war division of Germany was consolidated with the establishment of twoseparate German states, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) andthe German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
By 1949 the U.S. and Britain agreed that West Germany had to be rearmed tostrengthen the defenses of Western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion.What was needed was a viable democratic German Army, free of the militarismand outlook of its wartime predecessor. The idea was that it would be essentialfor the defense of Germany and indeed all of Western Europe. Adenauer was ableto overcome grave French objections and created the non-nuclear "Bundeswehr"based on democratic principles and practices that met the Allies criteria.Adenauers flat rejection was, however, out of step with public opinion; hethen realized his mistake and he started to ask questions. Criticsdenounced him for having missed an opportunity for German reunification.The Soviets sent a second note, courteous in tone. Adenauer by thenunderstood that all opportunity for initiative had passed out of hishands, and the matter was put to rest by the Allies. Given the realities ofthe Cold War, German reunification and recovery of lost territories in theeast were not realistic goals as both of Stalins notes specified the retentionof the existing "Potsdam"-decreed boundaries of Germany. His re-electioncampaigns centered around the slogan "No Experiments".
For a legal backup, the German Restitution Laws were passed in 1956, allowingindividuals and other ethnic groups than Jews to lay claims for compensationfrom the German state, if they were victims of Nazi prosecution. Aside fromthat, other global treaties for compensation were made with other Europeanstates in the following decades, to compensate for the Nazi crimes.Adenauers achievements include the establishment of a stable democracy in WestGermany and a lasting reconciliation with France, culminating in the Élysée Treaty. Hispolitical commitment to the Western powers achieved full sovereignty for WestGermany, which was formally laid down in the General Treaty, although thereremained Allied restrictions concerning the status of a potentially reunited Germanyand the state of emergency in West Germany. Adenauer firmly integrated the countrywith the emerging Euro-Atlantic community (NATO and the Organization for EuropeanEconomic Cooperation. Adenauer is closely linked to the implementation of anenhanced pension system, which ensured unparalleled prosperity for retired people.Along with his Minister for Economic Affairs and successor Ludwig Erhard, the WestGerman model of a "social market economy" (a mixed economywith capitalism moderated by elements of social welfare and Catholic social teaching)allowed for the boom period known as the economic miracle that produced broadprosperity. The Adenauer era witnessed a dramatic rise in the standard of living ofaverage Germans, with real wages doubling between 1950 and 1963. This risingaffluence was accompanied by a 20% fall in working hours during that same period,together with a fall in the unemployment rate from 8% in 1950 to 0.4% in 1965. Inaddition, an advanced welfare state was established.
Adenauer ensured a truly free and democratic society, which hadbeen almost unknown to the German people before —notwithstanding the attempt between 1919 and 1933 (the WeimarRepublic) — and which is today not just normal but also deeplyintegrated into modern German society. He thereby laid thegroundwork for Germany to reenter the community of nations andto evolve as a dependable member of the Western world. It can beargued that because of Adenauers policies, a later reunification ofboth German states was possible; and unified Germany hasremained a solid partner in the European Union and NATO. In retrospect, mainly positive assessments of his chancellorshipprevail, not only with the German public, which voted him the"greatest German of all time" in a 2003 television poll, but evenwith some of todays left-wing intellectuals, who praise hisunconditional commitment to western-style democracy andEuropean integration.
Assassination attempt• On 27 March 1952, a package addressed to Chancellor Adenauer exploded in the Munich Police Headquarters, killing one Bavarian police officer. Two boys who had been paid to send this package by mail had brought it to the attention of the police. Investigations led to people closely related to the Herut Party and the former Irgun armed organization. The West German government kept all proof under seal in order to prevent antisemitic responses from the German public. Five Israeli suspects identified by French and German investigators were allowed to return to Israel.